David Hilbert was promoting formalized mathematics, in which every real number with its infinite series of digits is a completed individual object. On the other side the Dutch mathematician, Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer, was defending the view that each point on the line should be represented as a never-ending process that develops in time, a view known as intuitionistic mathematics (Box 1).
This paper applies Edward Craig’s and Bernard Williams’ ‘genealogical’ method to the debate between relativism and its opponents in epistemology and in the philosophy of language. We explain how the central function of knowledge attributions -- to ‘flag good informants’ -- explains the intuitions behind five different positions (two forms of relativism, absolutism, contextualism, and invariantism). We also investigate the question whether genealogy is neutral in the controversy over relativism. We conclude that it is not: genealogy is most naturally taken to favour an anti-realism about epistemic norms. And anti-realism threatens absolutism.
Do scientific theories limit human knowledge? In other words, are there physical variables hidden by essence forever? We argue for negative answers and illustrate our point on chaotic classical dynamical systems. We emphasize parallels with quantum theory and conclude that the common real numbers are, de facto, the hidden variables of classical physics. Consequently, real numbers should not be considered as “physically real” and classical mechanics, like quantum physics, is indeterministic.
We show that under plausible levels of background risk, no theory of choice under risk—such as expected utility theory, prospect theory, or rank dependent utility—can simultaneously satisfy the following three economic postulates: (i) Decision makers are risk-averse over small gambles, (ii) they respect stochastic dominance, and (iii) they account for background risk.
The following gives an overview of my beliefs about what it is to live an ethical life. At no point do I defend the beliefs or elaborate in sufficient detail to really persuade, I am simply trying to state them roughly and indicate how they interrelate. Often the claims are more an expression of mood or sentiment than anything to be taken too literally. Even the citations are not generally to defences of the views they are attached to, and in some cases the author’s views may be opposed to mine. Rather, at some point in writing this the bibliography became something like an intellectual auto-biography. The citations are thus to indicate pieces on the topic in question, which I have at some point over many years I read at least part of, and which made a noticeable impression on me. My views on ethics are not especially interesting, novel, or coherent. I imagine this document will mainly be of interest to me, but I share it on the encouragement of friends. I intend to return to this at some point and make the writing more aesthetically pleasing.
There is a rich and growing philosophical literature on humility and modesty, but, as Sara Rushing observes, “a fair number of professional philosophers … conflate humility with modesty without critically reflecting on the implications of treating the two terms as equivalent.” This conflation is unsurprising, because in ordinary language the terms are often used synonymously and interchangeably. Nonetheless, the concepts are distinct. Rushing herself does not do the work to distinguish between the concepts of humility and modesty, but her reflection on humility in Christian and Confucian traditions does gesture at the difference that I will argue for: Humility is internal; it is a matter of thought and feeling. Modesty is external; it is a matter of expression. The term ‘humility’ is etymologically connected with the Latin humus, meaning earth or soil. Although it can have connotations of lowliness, the concept of humility is perhaps better understood as being “down to earth” in one’s perspective. The term ‘modesty’ comes from the Latin modestia and connotes moderation, propriety, and correctness of conduct, which, as we will see, is appropriate to the concept of modesty.
This article examines the affect of acquiescentia in Spinoza’s Ethics, presenting an original interpretation of acquiescentia which illuminates the account of blessedness developed in Part V of the Ethics. It also shows how Spinoza’s complex but coherent account of acquiescentia has been obscured by inconsistent translations of acquiescentia, and forms of the verb acquiescere, in the standard English edition of the Ethics. Spinoza’s discussion of acquiescentia both draws on and critiques the equivalent Cartesian passion, la satisfaction de soi-même, which is translated as ‘acquiescentia in se ipso’ in the Latin edition of the Passions of the Soul. For Spinoza, acquiescentia is an inherently cognitive affect, since it involves an idea of oneself (as the cause of one’s joy). As such, the affect is closely correlated to the three kinds of cognition identified by Spinoza in Ethics II. Just as there are three kinds of cognition, so there are three kinds of acquiescentia – a point that has hitherto been missed by commentators. Two qualities – stillness and obedience – provide the criteria for distinguishing true or genuine acquiescentia from its false, “empty” counterpart, corresponding to imaginatio. According to Spinoza, Descartes’s conception of acquiescentia belongs entirely to this inadequate, confused kind of cognition. The qualities of stillness and obedience also distinguish between two kinds of true acquiescentia, corresponding to ratio and scientia intuitiva.
Augustine famously claims every word is a name. Some readers take Augustine to thereby maintain a purely referentialist semantic account according to which every word is a referential expression whose meaning is its extension. Other readers think that Augustine is no referentialist and is merely claiming that every word has some meaning. In this paper, I clarify Augustine’s arguments to the effect that every word is a name and argue that ‘every word is a name’ amounts to the claim that for any word, there exist tokens of that word which are autonymous nouns. Augustine takes this to be the result of universal lexical ambiguity or equivocity (that is, the fact that every word has more than one literal meaning) and I clarify how Augustine’s account of metalinguistic discourse, which is one of the most detailed to have survived from antiquity, differs from some ancient and modern theories.
The goal of this article is to counter a belief, still widely held in the secondary literature, that Anne Conway espoused a theory of monads. By exploring her views on the divisibility of both bodies and spirits, I argue that monads could not possibly exist in her system. In addition, by offering new evidence about the Latin translation of Conway’s Principles, and the possible authorship of its annotations, I argue that she never even suggested that there could be such things as monads. Alongside this, I explore the theories of monads that did get developed by the philosophers closest to Conway—Henry More, Francis Mercury van Helmont, and Christian Knorr von Rosenroth—thereby further underlining Conway’s originality and philosophical daring.
During pregnancy, birth and, the early days of parenthood, we do amazing things with our bodies, easily comparable to the achievements of any marathon runner. When we are pregnant, we use our bodies to shelter and nourish the growing human from microscopic blastocyst to full-term foetus. We push the boundaries of human endurance with peaks of energy use comparable to elite athletes. In labour, the cervix dilates to ten centimetres wide, roughly the size of a bagel , while the uterus exerts 100-400 Newtons of downwards force with each contraction during birth, equivalent to the force exerted by many men’s Olympic weightlifting record holders (and outdoing some of them). When lactating, we might produce over 1000g of milk a day. This milk is tailor made to meet our babies’ needs, becoming higher in calories when the baby signals a growth spurt by feeding frequently throughout the day and contains antibodies to protect the baby when either the mother or the baby gets sick.
F. A. Hayek and the Epistemology of Politics is primarily intended as a contribution to the philosophy and methodology of the Austrian School of economics (pp. 1-2). However, as the symposium participants are all quick to note, several of the book’s central arguments, especially those advanced in the first chapter, are of potential significance far beyond Austrian economics. The arguments of the first chapter present an important methodological challenge to multiple fields of political inquiry, to traditional political philosophy and theory, and to modern political science, as well as a significant practical problem for anyone concerned with the effectiveness of political action. Professional political thinkers and laypersons alike conceive the basic political problem to concern the motivations, reasons, incentives, etc., of policymakers. On this way of thinking, the fundamental problem to be solved, analytically, by the disciplines of political inquiry, and, practically, in political life, is how to ensure that policymakers are adequately motivated to pursue policy goals either that are in constituents’ interests or that constituents’ want pursued. I do not deny the significance of this problem or the value of the proposed solutions, whether analytical or practical-constitutional, that have been offered in the long course of the history of politics and political thought. The book does not suggest that we should scrap thousands of years of political inquiry and start all over again.
Scott Scheall has done an admirable job of making the occasionally dry and complicated issues of Hayekian political theory readable and even amusing. And he shows that he is an attentive student of Friedrich Hayek, particularly in the emphasis he places on epistemic humility which is certainly Hayek’s own principal teaching. But the result of Scheall’s skillful presentation is to lay bare just how flimsy that teaching really is as a guide to political wisdom, shorn of a normative framework.
This paper examines Heidegger’s position on a foundational distinction for Kantian and post- Kantian philosophy: that between acting ‘in the light of’ a norm and acting ‘merely in accordance with it’. In section 1, I introduce the distinction and highlight several relevant similarities between Kant and Heidegger on ontology and the first-person perspective. In section 2, I press the Kantian position further, focusing on the role of inferential commitments in perception: this provides a foil against which Heidegger’s account can be In section 3, I contrast this Kantian approach with Crowell’s highly sophisticated reading of Heidegger on care: I argue that, subject to certain conditions on how we view explanation, the two approaches are compatible and indeed mutually supporting. I close in section 4 by addressing an importantly distinct dimension of normativity, that marked by critique, broadly construed. I argue that we ultimately need to locate Heidegger in a context that runs from Kant’s ‘What is Enlightenment’ through Nietzsche’s Genealogy.
In this paper, I motivate the addition of an actuality operator to relevant logics. Straightforward ways of doing this are in tension with standard motivations for relevant logics, but I show how to add the operator in a way that permits one to maintain the intuitions behind relevant logics. I close by exploring some of the philosophical consequences of the addition.
The philosophical impact of early German romanticism in general and
Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis) in particular has
typically been traced back to a series of fragments and reflections on
poetry, art, and beauty. Moreover, his name has been associated with
an aestheticization of philosophy, an illegitimate valorizing of the
medieval, and a politically reactionary program. This view of von
Hardenberg, however, is to a large extent rooted in the image created
posthumously by his increasingly conservative friends within the
romantic circle. Furthermore, von Hardenberg’s philosophical
reputation has been shaped by his critics, the most prominent of whom
was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.
According to Aristotle, the medical art aims at health, which is a virtue of the body, and does so in an unlimited way. Consequently, medicine does not determine the extent to which health should be pursued, and “mental health” falls under medicine only via pros hen predication. Because medicine is inherently oriented to its end, it produces health in accordance with its nature and disease contrary to its nature—even when disease is good for the patient. Aristotle’s politician understands that this inherent orientation can be systematically distorted, and so would see the need for something like the Hippocratic Oath.
Imagine you are an untenured Professor and the only woman and person of color amongst the faculty in a Philosophy department. You are frequently approached by students, typically women or members of other underrepresented groups, looking for mentorship and emotional support as they navigate their academic experience. While you believe this service work is valuable with a view to increasing the representation of minorities in philosophy, it is also emotionally draining and takes significant time away from your own research. You feel trapped. If you do this sort of mentorship work, you help diversify the field in a way that will be better for you and other members of underrepresented groups. Moreover, if you refuse to do this work, you indirectly help to maintain a status quo in which women and people of color like yourself remain dramatically underrepresented and under-served. But, by doing this service work, you compromise your own research, and reinforce a system where disproportionate burdens are placed on women and people of color, making them less likely to succeed in the profession.
I've been binge-watching Doctor Who, and two days ago I finished Susanna Clarke's new novel Piranesi. I love them both! Doctor Who is among my favorite TV series ever, and the images of Piranesi will probably linger with me for the rest of my life. …
Debate about the epistemic prowess of historical science has focused on local underdetermination problems generated by a lack of historical data; the prevalence of information loss over geological time, and the capacities of scientists to mitigate it. Drawing on Leonelli’s recent distinction between ‘phenomena-time’ and ‘data-time’ I argue that factors like data generation, curation and management significantly complexifies and undermines this: underdetermination is a bad way of framing the challenges historical scientists face. In doing so, I identify circumstances of ‘epistemic scarcity’ where underdetermination problems are particularly salient, and discuss cases where ‘legacy data’—data generated using differing technologies and systems of practice—are drawn upon to overcome underdetermination. This suggests that one source of overcoming underdetermination is our knowledge of science’s past. Further, data-time makes agnostic positions about the epistemic fortunes of scientists working under epistemic scarcity more plausible. But agnosticism seems to leave philosophers without much normative grip. So, I sketch an alternative approach: focusing on the strategies scientists adopt to maximize their epistemic power in light of the resources available to them.
May 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Miguel Sánchez-Mazas, founder of Theoria. An International Journal of Theory, History and Foundations of Science, and regarded as the person who brought mathematical logic to Spain. Here we present some of his biographical features and a summary of his contributions, from his early work in the 1950s - introducing contemporary advances in logic and philosophy of science in a philosophically backward milieu dominated by the scholasticism of that era in Spain - to the development of a project of Lebnizian lineage aimed at producing an arithmetic calculation that would elude some of the difficulties confronting Leibniz’s calculus. KEYWORDS: Miguel Sánchez-Mazas, Leibniz, numerical characteristic, calculation of norms, jurisprudence.
Noether’s first theorem does not establish a one-way explanatory arrow from symmetries to conservation laws, but such an arrow is widely assumed in discussions of the theorem in the physics and philosophy literature. It is argued here that there are pragmatic reasons for privileging symmetries, even if they do not strictly justify explanatory priority. To this end, some practical factors are adduced as to why Noether’s direct theorem seems to be more well-known and exploited than its converse, with special attention being given to the sometimes overlooked nature of Noether’s converse result and to its strengthened version due to Luis Martinez Alonso in 1979 and Peter Olver in 1986.
It is usual to identify initial conditions of classical dynamical systems with mathematical real numbers. However, almost all real numbers contain an infinite amount of information. I argue that a finite volume of space can’t contain more than a finite amount of information, hence that the mathematical real numbers are not physically relevant. Moreover, a better terminology for the so-called real numbers is “random numbers”, as their series of bits are truly random. I propose an alternative classical mechanics, which is empirically equivalent to classical mechanics, but uses only finite-information numbers. This alternative classical mechanics is non-deterministic, despite the use of deterministic equations, in a way similar to quantum theory. Interestingly, both alternative classical mechanics and quantum theories can be supplemented by additional variables in such a way that the supplemented theory is deterministic. Most physicists straightforwardly supplement classical theory with real numbers to which they attribute physical existence, while most physicists reject Bohmian mechanics as supplemented quantum theory, arguing that Bohmian positions have no physical reality.
Studies on Platonic ‘Theoria motus abstracti’ are often focused on dynamics rather than kinematics, in particular on psychic self-motion. This state of affairs is, of course, far from being a bland academic accident: according to Plato, dynamics is the higher science while kinematics is lower on the ‘scientific’ spectrum . Furthermore, when scholars investigate Platonic abstract kinematics, in front of them there is a very limited set of texts . Among them, one of the most interesting undoubtedly remains a passage of Parmenides in which Plato challenges the puzzle of the ‘instant of change’, namely the famous text about the ‘sudden’ (τὸ ἐξαίφνης).
In this post I reflect on the failures of nonsense-policing and ordinary language philosophy, and the fact that notwithstanding these failures, paying critical attention to semantic issues is of central importance in philosophy, and in metaphysics as well as philosophy of language. …
What is possible, according to the empiricist conception, is what our evidence positively allows; and what is necessary is what it compels. These notions, along with logical possibility, are the only defensible notions of possibility and necessity. In so far as nomic and metaphysical possibility are defensible, they fall within empirical possibility. These empirical conceptions are incompatible with traditional possible world semantics. Empirically necessary propositions cannot be defined as those true in all possible worlds. There can be empirical possibilities without empirical necessities. The duality of possibility and necessity can be degenerate and can even be falsified.
This essay presents a novel approach to specifying the meaning of the concept of populism, on the political position it occupies and on the nature of populism. Employing analytic techniques of concept clarification and recent analytic ideology critique, it develops populism as a political kind in three steps. First, it descriptively specifies the stereotype of populist platforms as identified in extant research and thereby delimits the peculiar political position populism occupies in representative democracies as neither inclusionary nor fascist. Second, it specifies on this basis analytically–normatively the particular stance towards liberal representative democracy (in particular towards popular sovereignty and democratic legitimacy) that unifies populism’s political position and explains how populist politics can be compelling for democratic citizens. The normative core (populist ideology) turns out to require no more than two general principles of legitimizing political authority by elections. Surprisingly, it does not need a separate anti-pluralist or exclusionary commitment: it entails it. Third, this normative model allows a response to a contested question in the theoretical discussion, namely, whether populism (properly specified) can be democracy-enhancing. The article defends the negative answer in virtue of the normative core alone and does so as much vis-`a-vis a minimal (purely electoral) as vis-`a-vis a normatively ambitious (liberal) conception of democracy. The reconstruction of the normative core of populist ideology enables a novel argument to show that populism is incompatible with the continued democratic legitimation of political authority even in the normatively most austere conception of ‘electoral democracy’, not just with ‘liberal democracy’. Assuming a normatively more ambitious concept of democratic legitimation in terms of political autonomy, the model also produces an extremely direct argument showing that populists cannot fulfil their promise of ‘taking back control’ over political decision-making to the population.
Walter Benjamin’s importance as a philosopher and critical
theorist can be gauged by the diversity of his intellectual influence
and the continuing productivity of his thought. Primarily regarded as a
literary critic and essayist, the philosophical basis of
Benjamin’s writings is increasingly acknowledged. They were a
decisive influence upon Theodor W. Adorno’s conception of
philosophy’s actuality or adequacy to the present (Adorno 1931). In the 1930s, Benjamin’s efforts to develop a politically
oriented, materialist aesthetic theory proved an important stimulus
for both the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and the Marxist poet
and dramatist Bertolt Brecht.
A recent claim by Meehan that quantum mechanics has a new “control problem” that puts limits on our ability to prepare quantum states and revises our understanding of the no-cloning theorem is examined. We identify flaws in Meehan’s analysis and argue that such a problem does not exist.
In many contexts, all of the individual members of a group can
benefit from the efforts of each member and all can benefit
substantially from collective action. For example, if each of us
pollutes less by paying a bit extra for our cars, we all benefit from
the reduction of harmful gases in the air we breathe and even in the
reduced harm to the ozone layer that protects us against exposure to
carcinogenic ultraviolet radiation (although those with fair skin
benefit far more from the latter than do those with dark skin). If all
of us or some subgroup of us prefer the state of affairs in which we
each pay this bit over the state of affairs in which we do not, then
the provision of cleaner air is a collective good for us.
Standard lore holds that magnetic forces are incapable of doing mechanical work. More precisely, the claim is that whenever it appears that a magnetic force is doing work, the work is actually being done by another force, with the magnetic force serving only as an indirect mediator. On the other hand, the most familiar instances of magnetic forces acting in everyday life—bar magnets lifting other bar magnets—appear to present manifest evidence of magnetic forces doing work. These sorts of counterexamples are often dismissed as arising from quantum effects that lie outside the classical regime. In this paper, however, we show that quantum theory is not needed to account for these phenomena, and that classical electromagnetism admits a model of elementary magnetic dipoles on which magnetic forces can indeed do work. In order to develop this model, we revisit the foundational principles of the classical theory of electromagnetism, showcase the importance of constraints from relativity, examine the structure of the multipole expansion, and study the connection between the Lorentz force law and conservation of energy and momentum.